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Don't Miss These Key Health & Safety Checks For New Office Furniture

If you've ordered new office furniture and installed it into your workspace, before commencing full use of the new items, it's highly advised you conduct the following health and safety checks. Following this office health and safety checklist will help make sure there are no accidents or mishaps. These can be embarrassing for those involved, at best, but seriously dangerous and harmful at worst.

Here's The 5 Key Health & Safety Checks For New Office Furniture

Follow these 5 health & safety checks and apply them specifically to your office furniture. This is the 5 key health & safety checks and how they relate to new office furniture is explained below:

Step 1: Look For The Hazards

Step 2: Decide Who Might Be Harmed

Step 3: Evaluate The Risks

Step 4: Record The Findings

Step 5: Review The Assessment Regularly

Completing those 5 checks when you have finished installing your new furniture and then regularly as part of your usual office health & safety assessments will ensure that you are fully compliant with legislation. This will minimise the risk of accidents, posture related injuries and workplace falls and trips.

Failing to properly check new office furniture for health and safety issues can lead to repetitive stress injuries if chairs and desks are not setup correctly, walkways and exit routes could present trip hazards or furniture items could collapse and cause serious injury.

Here's a more in depth look at each of the 5 checks and how they relate to new office furniture:

Step 1: Look For The Hazards

Firstly, ensure you follow the manufacturer's installation instructions and directions for safe and proper use. Ensuring the latter will ensure incidents such as over loaded shelves collapsing is avoided. The former should mean that the next part of this check is easier.

Once installation is complete, ensure that all your new office furniture is fully stable and steady. Whilst conditions are safe to do so, test the load bearing capacity  is as intended.

For example, can the desk withstand somebody leaning their hand on the desk to pass somebody something and therefore putting a good portion of their body weight through the desk whilst doing so?

Perform a visual check on all items. Are they level and free from movement? Are all screws and parts attached fully, and are there no sharp or exposed edges which might cause a laceration?

Next, check all individual working spaces are compliant with UK legislation:

  • Backrests of chairs should be between 620mm-950mm from the ground and preferably adjustable.
  • The seat and desk top should have a distance between 210mm-300mm and again be adjustable.
  • There should be a minimum of 450mm and 600mm open space for an employee's respective knees and feet underneath the desk.
  • The desk top should be between 660mm-1000mm from the ground.

These guideline amounts should be achievable for big and small staff alike, which is why it's advisable to purchase adjustable office furniture items.

Finally, check that all walkways and exit routes are well clear and leave enough space for staff to travel through them without having to dodge around furniture items or move anything out of their way. This would cause potential hazards during an emergency or lead to stumbles and falls generally.

Step 2: Decide Who Might Be Harmed

If there are hazards - perhaps there's a pinch point in a non-exit route walkway or a meeting desk might be a little snug for bigger employees - work out who might be harmed by them.

This will feed into the later checks.

Step 3: Evaluate The Risks

Like with all health and safety risks in the office, the employer must take action to remove, reduce or control the risk. Assess each risk that you find and work out how to best remove, reduce or control it.

This could be done by training individuals on the best way to use their office chair and why it's important to use it this way to protect their health. If an employee cannot reach the floor and meet the recommended dimensions (whilst sitting correctly, shown in the below diagram), you can purchase footrests.

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If there are walkway and exit route issues, you may need to rearrange the office furniture layout a little to make sure there are no trip hazards or create more room for heavy traffic.

If you need any further safety advice, consult your furniture supplier.

Step 4: Record The Findings

If your business has five or more employees, you are legally obliged by law to record significant findings from any risk assessment. You should also record how you will remove, reduce or control the risks.

Recording the risks and how to manage them also means that employees can be briefed on the risks they face in the workplace. Even if they are trivial and resolved by what is essentially common sense, if you can spot them, they need flagging, documenting and communicated to staff.

This is because if people know about a risk fully, they are better prepared to deal with it, even if the worst  outcome of the risk is small. Those designated to be responsible for office safety know what the protocol is and if any similar risks present themselves in the future there is an established way of dealing with them.

Step 5: Review The Assessment Regularly

With a change to any of the variables involved in your office furniture health and safety checks - new employees, body changes (such as pregnancy),  more new furniture, change in layout, change in working behaviour - you need to review your assessment.

This will help to spot if any risks have changed in prevalence or if any new ones have emerged.

Need Help Choosing The Right, Compliant Office Chair?

Take a look at this quick and easy guide to choosing the right office chair for your budget, job roles and for achieving compliance with HSE legislation.

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